The first thing you need to understand about foster children and schoolwork is that many of these
kids have moved between foster homes, frequently having to change schools. This can occur
anytime in the school calendar, by which time all the other students have formed friendship groups
that are hard to break into. The result is that foster children seldom make lasting friendships and
thus miss out on a crucial support group at school. Such children may also be bullied and seen as
These factors can have a negative effect on academic performance and participation in sports and
extracurricular activities. However, foster carers can step up to the plate and provide the extra help
that is needed. We provide you with the knowledge and guidelines to ensure that your child
performs well at school.
You should provide your foster child with support when doing their homework. This requires setting
aside an hour or two every evening to be fully available to the child. If you have biological children,
they should be included in this attention to avoid them trying to get your focus away from the foster
child to themselves. A set homework session helps all your children to thrive.
Seeing what homework issues a child is struggling with helps you to communicate more effectively
with teachers. You may pick up that the child needs more help on a particular subject. Or poor
reading skills may be hampering all their lessons. Explain assignments to make sure that they know
what is required.
Don’t do the work for them. Let them try and see what is not being understood. Work through a few
examples together. You can let them return to working alone once you can see that they have
mastered the area that was problematic.
Establish clear targets for schoolwork. This should take account of the child’s current level of
learning, bearing in mind that their schooling has been disrupted. If the child has failed a year, the
goal should be to pass. Else, a reasonable goal is to show improvement across all subjects.
Make the rules clear, for example, that there is a set homework slot daily. The consequences of not
completing homework should also be spelled out, e.g., no TV until homework is done. Other
requirements may be getting their uniforms ready for school the next day. Bear in mind that you
cannot set different rules for your foster and biological children unless there is a problem beyond
the norm, such as truancy.
When you decide to foster a child, you are taking on caring for a unique person. At the same time,
each foster child may have a background of pain and separation from the biological parents. This can
result in common behavior problems.
There are several lines of communication that you need to keep open and trustworthy. The first
people that you must work with are the fostering agency’s employees and social workers. From the
moment you decide on fostering in Edinburgh, for example, you will be taking on a responsibility to
change a child’s life for the better. This requires finding out everything about your foster child’s
background, where previous foster parents failed, and how you can succeed.
Academic progress is an important measure of this success. It needs you to build a close relationship
with the school and communication both ways should be constant. Attend parent-teacher feedback
sessions and all open events.
Most important to academic achievement is a supportive homework routine, setting performance
targets, and maintaining communication with other key parties.